Fiji - Direct Trade - 2019

Origin: Matasawalevu, Drekiti, Macuata Province

Type: Forastero

Certifications: Direct Trade

Harvest Year: 2019

Flavor notes:

Let’s start off with saying this may well be the best Forastero I’ve ever had. It has virtually everything I love about chocolate rolled into one. And it may well be in the top 10 beans I’ve had. Yeah, I’m that impressed.  And that is the 4th year in a row.  If you look at the spider charts you will see how consistent the flavor profile has remained.

The aroma is of raisins. That deeply sweet impression of dried fruits and vanilla. There are the deep low toned fruits, not the bright acidity ones. There is also a crème brule caramelization that is a sharp tangy shot to the senses.

The flavor has that same crème brule depth of flavor. Various nuts are present. Soft and round flavored ones like cashew and macadamia nuts. Raisins are again present in the taste along with the huge lingering mouth feel and intense chocolate. There is a subtle taste of leather and tobacco leaf .

I have a feeling I could eat this chocolate all day long without tiring of it. But not because it is boring. It’s just so present and full of flavor and intensity. I’m really loving this chocolate. There is a great bitterness that perfectly offsets the inherent sweetness of the bean. And also a gentle tang of malic acidity to keep the balance fun and lively.

And let’s talk about sweetness. It is pretty common in coffee descriptions. This or that cup has this or that kind of sweetness. But those are all in black coffee. But I evaluate with sugar. In this case, the description comes from the fact that at 80%, the impression is of a chocolate that is much sweeter. And probably due to the real dynamic abundance of pleasant intense flavors that are present. It pushes all of the right buttons of what a great solid chocolate should taste like without any of the negative ones. What would be negative? Harsh bitterness without supporting sweetness. Balance to the point of boring. Lack of acidity or astringency that makes it flabby.

There you go. The virtual poster child of why we all came to love chocolate.

Centralized fermentary and drying facility. Fresh cacao is loaded into 3-tier hardwood fermentation boxes and closely monitored for 5-7 days with daily bean rotation. Fully fermented cacao is dried on decks for approximately 1 week. Each batch is raked regularly each day and hand sorted into GrainPro sealed bags for export.

The Mataswalevu Cocoa Farm is located in Dreketi, Macuata, in the hills of Northern Fiji, 16°33’ S Latitude and 178°52’ E Longitude. It is one of the larger cacao farms in Fiji and started operations around 1979. The farm once covered an area of 400 acres but at present consists of approximately 100 acres of Forestero Amelonado cacao. The Matasawalevu farm has a well established reputation of producing quality cocoa and post-harvest processing operations closely follow traditional techniques.

Dreketi is located in the province of Macuata on Vanua Levu and is home to some of the poorest people on Fiji. Dreketi is a district in the comprising of 7 villages all of which are located within the mid reaches and the upper reaches of the Dreketi river and their tributaries. Populations living in these areas are almost wholly dependent on fishing and subsistence as well as rice farming for their livelihoods.The largest village located along the Dreketi river is Nabavatu village which is also the centre of traditional governance within the district. Dreketi has been a slow developing district compared to a number of other districts around Macuata..

I'm a fan of roasting this on the longer and heavier side. You will get those caramel flavors and dried fruits. Light will just moderate those flavors. Given how well this bean is fermented I think you could easily take it pretty light and still have a wonderful chocolate. Those tasting notes may follow. Check back.

In the mean time, 2-2.5 lbs for 20-22 minutes in the Behmor on P1 does a great job.

In a drum roaster that is going to correspond to a bean temperature of 260 F over 16 minutes or so. The specific profile I used on to evaluate this is 10/12.5/16.75 @ 261 F.

In the oven, follow my standard roasting profiles but add on 25 F to each of the temperatures feel free to draw out the end. You are going to be hard pressed to over roast this in a home oven if you follow the basics.